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June 23, 2013

Police nab 22 in drug sweep

LAWRENCE — With the help of seven outside agencies, the police department’s Special Operations Division’s Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit arrested 22 people in their latest “quality of life” sweep.

Sixteen of the arrests involved drug-related charges. The primary focus of the investigative operation was on crimes fueled by the city’s illegal narcotics trade. Officers concentrated on the Broadway and Back Bay areas of the city.

Police arrested six people for selling heroin and two others for selling cocaine. Four others were charged with buying heroin and two for purchasing cocaine.

“Drug crimes fuel most of the crime in the city, so that’s why we put so much emphasis in enforcing the drug laws,” Lawrence Police Chief John Romero said yesterday.

“As long as there are buyers, there will be sellers. We go after the buyers as well as the dealers, because they’re fueling their drug habits by breaking into cars or by doing daytime burglaries. We go after the buyers as well as prostitutes. Most of them have drug problems and they tend to steer customers to the drug dealers,” Romero said. He noted that two of the arrests involved prostitution.

Agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Essex County Sheriffs Department deputies and detectives assigned to the State Police Violent Apprehension section along with police from Methuen, Andover, Merrimac, Tewksbury assisted Lawrence police in Thursday’s investigation.

Officers targeted the surveillance locations based on past arrests, law enforcement intelligence and tips from citizens who live in the area, according to Romero.

Those charged included:

Bernabe Gonzalez, 39, of 8 Mason St., Lawrence, distribution of heroin, drug distribution in a school zone and possession of cocaine.

Isaiah J. Deleon, 20, of 36 Milton St., Lawrence, distribution of heroin.

Andre Reyes, 45, of 235 Broadway, Lawrence, distribution of cocaine and distribution of methamphetamine.

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